The United Nations and the Organization of American States have named 2011 as the International Year for People of African Descent. This is an opportunity for all of us around the globe to celebrate the diversity of our societies and to honor the contributions that our fellow citizens of African descent make every day to the economic, social and political fabrics of our communities.
In Africa, we see a rising generation of talented and tenacious young people working to build a new and better future for themselves and their countries. And all across the world on every continent, we see the dynamism and determination of people of African descent. This is also a time, especially here in the Americas, to remember our hemisphere’s shameful history of slavery and to reaffirm our commitment to eradicate racism and reduce inequality wherever it lingers.
We are working together with countries in the region and around the world to promote racial equality. But there is so much more to do. In the 21st century, diversity, openness, and tolerance are vital national assets. They strengthen our societies and expand our capacity to meet our shared challenges and to seize the new opportunities before us.
So as we mark this International Year for People of African Descent, I hope you’ll join us in renewing our efforts to promote opportunity, understanding, and respect at home and all over the world. Thank you very much.